Monday, November 4, 2019

August 11 - A COUNTRY SUNDAY ... SIMPLE, NOT EASY!

AUGUST 11, 2019
FR. PHIL EBERHART
COUNTRY GOSPEL SUNDAY


SIMPLE, NOT EASY!


Well, you can probably tell that I enjoy this country, cowboy stuff a lot.  Takes me back to my roots in Eastern Colorado and life on the farm - in touch with the land and the crops - and the people of simple faith.

That's what I want to talk about a bit this morning.

Our scriptures this morning couldn't have been chosen better for this theme!  Amazing how that works, every time it seems.

"Abraham BELIEVED GOD, and it was credited to him as RIGHTEOUSNESS"

18  Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear
him,*
    on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19  that he may deliver their soul from death*
    and keep them alive in famine.
20  Our soul waits for the LORD;*
    he is our help and our shield.
21  For our heart is glad in him,*
    because we trust in his holy name.

"FAITH is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen...  you must believe that He IS and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him!"

and finally,

Put your treasure in places that don't rust and wear out - for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also!

A theme of the music that we hear in the Gospel music genre is faith, the hope of heaven, the joy of living, and the blessings of the Lord and life in His sight.  

I just want to talk this morning about having a simple faith in God,  the faith my father and mother have, that my grandmother had and passed on to me.

Abraham was a Bedouin, a migrant shepherd and herder.  The words that passed between him and God are direct - he shows his doubt clearly in his conversations, --- he's a real person in the face of God and the destiny that God lays out in front of him.

It wasn't something that was easy for Abraham to do.
He had a lot of evidence to the contrary:  He was old as was Sarah - yet God said he was to "Father Nations."  God said he had a destiny that was not limited by his age, or station in life, but only by his faith!

Faith is kind of a difficult thing for us to lay hold on sometimes.  Abraham, it says, simply "believed God".
There is a lot packed into those two words!

He took what God said, in spite of the evidence that his eyes could see, grey hair and wrinkles, needing to walk with a staff, a wife who laughed at the very idea!

Faith is the substance, the writer of Hebrews tells us.
The SUBSTANCE of what is hoped for.  We believe something so strongly that it's like we already have it. We're sure of it.  We know that we know that we know!

Faith is the EVIDENCE of things unseen!  It's like the shadow of a tree in the evening sun, seen from around the corner of a building as you come to the corner.  You know it's there but you can't yet see it.

Faith is a record like our blue sheets over on the wall. Like the stone out on our berm - the Ebenezer stone - "Thus far, the Lord has been our help!"  And if "thus far" - how much farther!

Paul tells us, "He who began a good work in you, will bring it to completion!"

I've wanted to write a book for some time called "Out of the Blue" - Stories of the Faithfulness of God in the Every day Coincidences.

This is why, like a broken record, I keep harping on the three steps of our life as missionaries to the world around us:   Willingness, Availability and Obedience.  It's pretty simple, not very easy.

Faith is the substance - its the evidence.

But faith alone is not enough.  Abraham believed but there is another ingredient.

He believed... GOD!

What is your faith IN?

We all have faith, we use it every day - when we drive, when we fly, when we get in an elevator, when we go to Walmart.  When we sit down on a chair!  Faith is everywhere man!

What is your faith in?  or rather Whom?  Abraham believed GOD.  Abraham was called a "friend of God."

This is faith that is born of and fostered in relationship!  Abraham spoke with the Lord, and the Lord spoke with him.

Why is it that we put so much emphasis on Prayer here?  Don't you wonder?  It's our vehicle of access.  One of my favorite words in the NT.  We have access to God, Paul tells us in Rom 5.

[Rom 5:1-2 ESV] 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

ACCESS TO GOD!  PEACE WITH GOD!
RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD!!!

Have you read the last chapters of the book of Job recently?  Let me refresh your memory - God confronts Job and gives him what we call an "attitude adjustment" with some simple questions... right?

[Job 38:4, 8, 12, 19, 22 ESV] 
4 "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. ... 
8 "Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, ... 
12 "Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, ... 
19 "Where is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness, ... 
22 "Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,

I think it was Malcolm Muggeridge who said that "the chief difficulty we have in prayer, is comprehending WHO it is we are praying to."

Abraham believed... GOD!
And God credited that belief (which was followed by action:   Sarah got pregnant - need I say more?) 
as RIGHTEOUSNESS.

I just wanted to encourage you to lay hold of FAITH this morning.  We have all kinds of EVIDENCE around us -  all kinds of SUBSTANCE that is already being seen.  GOD is doing it, friends - and we are part of it. Not just a little part, but a CITY SET ON A HILL, WHOSE LIGHT WILL NOT BE HIDDEN.

This is the Faith we talk about and the GOD that we point to in our telling the story - all the coincidences, kind of amazing, its all OUT OF THE BLUE!

Let's pray...

from our beginning collect this morning, all together again...

ALL: Almighty God, give us the increase of faith,
hope, and love; and, so that we may obtain what
you have promised, make us love what you
command; through Jesus Christ our Lord who
lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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